Saturday, August 14, 2010

Massachusetts: The case of Joe Donovan

Adrian Walker of the Boston Globe believes the case of Joe Donovan deserves a second look. Donovon and two others were charged with the murder of an MIT student in 1992. The two others served 11- and 12- year sentences respectively, but Donovan rejected a plea bargain that offered him a life sentence with the possibility of parole and wound up with a conviction that got him a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Now, Donovan is seeking a second chance, and this article notes that the judge who presided over the trial, supports commutation of the sentence to allow for the possibility of parole. The family of the victim also supports the application. But, Walker writes:
The prospects of reaching that point are not good, statistically speaking. Patrick has not granted a single commutation. The Parole Board has only recommended one, for Arnie King, who is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. Patrick rejected their recommendation.
The piece then proceeds to blame the "politics" of Willie Horton for this dearth of clemency, but it seems much more appropriate to blame the "politics" of Maurice Clemens at this point. The Horton case never was as clear cut as mere citation might suggest. Democrats, for example, were the first to draw attention to the case, not Republicans. Second, the Horton case was just as much about reform of the law as it was alternative release mechanisms. But the sloppy media mauling of Mike Huckabee, in the more recent case of Clemens sent a more stark, realistic picture of what the Nation's journalists are willing to do / write in order to build up a headline. See story here.

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